1. ITV Report

Leaders' debate: Key quotes on cutting the deficit question

The party leaders during the ITV debate. Photo: ITV

Here are some of the key responses from the opening question on how they would be able to eliminate the deficit without raising taxes or making substantial cuts:

Nick Clegg

I think it is all about balance, isn't it? That's why I don't think you should be faced with the stark choice of either cutting too much ... or borrowing too much.

I think that is a dismal choice, borrowing too much or cutting too much. You need to reduce spending but you also need to make those with the broadest shoulders, the wealthiest, pay a bit more.

So the Liberal Democrat plan is a very simple one. We will cut less than the Conservatives and we will borrow less than Labour.

– Nick Clegg

David Cameron

We have got a plan which is working ... I think what is absolutely crucial here is recognising that what our plan involves is balance.

We are going to go on investing in the NHS every year as we have done under this government ... we are going to find savings of £1 out of every £100 that the government spends. We need to do that for two more years.

The alternative to that plan is actually putting up taxes and I don't want to do that. I think if we go back to the tax, the waste, the spending, all the things that got us into a mess in the first place, we wouldn't help working people, we would hurt working people.

– David Cameron

Ed Miliband

We will cut the deficit every year and we will balance the books. But we will do it in a fairer and a better way than has been tried for the last five years.

What we will do is first of all we will have fair taxes, so we will reverse the tax cut that he gave to millionaires ... secondly we will have common sense spending reductions.

So outside key areas like education and health, spending will fall.

Thirdly we will do something else because your living standards have fallen over the last five years and that hasn't just been bad for working people, it has also meant that government hasn't had the tax revenue coming in.

– Ed Miliband

Nigel Farage

How can anyone believe these promises?

This coalition was put together to reduce the annual deficit to zero. That's why these two guys got together.

We need to make cuts and there are places we can start. We could easily cut £10 billion a year from the foreign aid budget. We could save another £10 billion a year by not paying over money to Brussels every single day. We could end vanity projects like HS2, that will only benefit a tiny number of people ... we could revisit the Barnett Formula.

– Nigel Farage

Leanne Wood

We see no reason to put arbitrary deadlines on cutting the deficit. The austerity experiment has failed.

So much pain for so little gain. The banks have had a bailout, it's time now for the people to have a bailout and it's time for us to invest in public services and job creation.

– Leanne Wood

Nicola Sturgeon

..should have modest spending increases over the next parliament.

It will take slightly longer to eliminate the deficit but the deficit would continue to fall every year.

– Nicola Sturgeon

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